Little White Slips: Karen Hitchcock
I was madly curious to read this debut short story collection. It comes with a rave from Helen Garner. (The last short fiction collection she endorsed was Nam Le’s The Boat.) It’s the first in a much-heralded two-book deal from Picador. And finally, I was keen to see more on the strength of the short fiction I’d read in the Sleepers Almanacs – particularly ‘Blood’ (featured here), about a middle-class doctor whose father is dying of leukemia, and her relationship with her father and brother, amateur hunters. It’s written in clear, concise, (ironically) bloodless prose, deep with unspoken feeling.
Hitchcock herself is a doctor, and this is reflected in many of the stories here. I especially loved the opening, considerably longer, story, ‘Drinking When We Are Not Thirsty’, about a middle-aged doctor preparing for her specialist physician exams, which cannibalises her family life and relationships to a shocking extent. The claustrophobia, intensity and very ordinary madness of this story is absolutely compelling. Karen Hitchcock’s writing reminds me of fellow doctor Jacinta Halloran (Dissection) and, yes, of Helen Garner. One to watch.